Ayubowan! As you step out of the vehicle and walk towards the reception you are greeted by smiling staff with their palms together in front of the heart. Ayubowan is a Sri Lankan greeting that means “may you live long” – how lovely is that? When my boyfriend got the week off work and asked if I wanted to stay a night at the new Anantara property in Tangalle, I jumped on that opportunity like Pizza Rat on a greasy slice of pepperoni pizza. We had visited the restaurants at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle a few times as outside guests, and I had always wondered what it would be like to stay overnight at this luxury hotel in Sri Lanka.
We quickly hopped online and chose a garden view room and started counting down until our visit. A few hours later, I received an e-mail from the hotel asking me to fill out a pre-arrival survey asking for slipper and robe size preferences, what type of pillows we wanted (6 different options!) and which soap fragrance we liked best. This was when the anticipation truly kicked in.
Visiting Sri Lanka? Click here for the full list of 12 things you should know before your trip!
The day had finally come and as we stepped into the reception area, we were welcomed with a cold, lemongrass-scented wet towel, a cup of king coconut water and three beautiful ladies singing and tapping on a traditional Sri Lankan drum. Just when things couldn’t get much better, we were informed that we had been upgraded to a private, ocean view villa with our own pool and were introduced to our villa manager/Sri Lankan guardian angel, Kanishka.
Kanishka led us over to an e-bike rickshaw and we were whisked away to our villa; the 152-room hotel sits on 42 acres of beachfront land and they’re planning on expanding and building even more rooms next year!
The Rooms at Anantara Tangalle
There are several different options available and Anantara offers both rooms and standalone villas. My jaw dropped when we arrived at the ocean view pool villa. We were given a tour of the beautiful master bedroom, bathroom, private terrace and salt-water pool before sitting down for the in-room check-in procedures.
Before leaving us to jump on the bed like 6-year-olds, Kanishka wrote down his direct phone number and asked us to call if we needed anything: luggage unpacking service, room service, restaurant reservations, laundry, a ride in a golf buggy to anywhere in the hotel we wanted to go, more towels, anything. He had also booked us a foot massage as a welcome gift and no less than 5 minutes later, 2 staff from the Anantara spa had showed up at our villa to soothe our tootsies.
The villa was absolutely humongous. The master bedroom is luxurious but cozy, glamorous but comfortable, and I got quite possibly the best night’s sleep in a long while in the king-sized bed. Best. Mattress. Ever. The room also had a massive smart TV with dozens of channels and free movies, Bose bluetooth speaker, Nespresso machine and coffee capsules (free of charge), kettle, mini-fridge stocked with goodies and plenty of fresh fruit.
Step into the bathroom and you may never want to leave. The bathroom had two sinks, a freestanding bathtub, the dreamiest rain shower and every amenity you could need. On the other side of the shower is a built-in wardrobe and drawers, luggage rack and safe.
If the room wasn’t impressive enough, just take a look at this pool. This wonderful little private infinity pool is where we spent the better part of the afternoon, soaking up the sunshine and listening to tunes. Perfection.
Update February 2017: We went back and treated ourselves to another stay at the Anantara Tangalle for Valentine’s Day! This time we were not upgraded (boo), but the ocean view room was beautiful and cozy. Needless to say, we gorged ourselves at the property’s restaurants – if you get a chance, try the Torresella Pinot Grigio!
The service was fantastic as usual but we did notice that the wifi signal was extremely patchy this time around, to the point where the Internet was barely working. It might have been an off-day, but if you absolutely MUST have an internet connection then consider bringing a pocket wifi device.
The Facilities & Food at Anantara Tangalle
On the way to our villa, Kanishka gave us an overview of all the different facilities and activities Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle offers: tennis court, badminton court, fitness center, 2 swimming pools, kids club, spa, surf lessons, yoga classes, beach cabanas, just to name a few!
The main 25 metre infinity pool offers in-water lounge chairs, a poolside mojito cart and pool bar so you always have a drink in hand; the pool cascades down into a shallower, smaller pool that is also surrounded by lounge chairs. You will never ever have to fight someone for a pool chair at Anantara, of that I am certain.
The beach is just steps away from the pool and is a stunning rocky bay – it is, however, not always swimmable due to strong currents. The best time to visit if your heart is set on swimming in the ocean is from December to April.
Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle also houses 3 main restaurants: Il Mare (Italian), Journeys (International) and Verele (Teppanyaki). The food is, put simply, delectable. Even when we aren’t staying at Anantara we often frequent Il Mare for dinner and Journeys for the best breakfast buffet in Sri Lanka.
Let me talk you through this magical breakfast buffet spread: Western classics including sausages (chicken and pork), baked beans, eggs, hash browns and 3 types of bacon; Sri Lankan dishes; cold cut platters; all the carbs you could ever need in this lifetime (including a pastry chef who walks around with a tray of freshly baked chocolate croissants); yoghurt, fresh fruit and cereal and a juice station. There’s even a gluten-free section!
The coffee served at Journeys is an experience in and of itself. It comes on a tray with cinnamon sticks, rock sugar sticks (brown and white), biscotti and sparkling water to ~cleanse the palate~.
I also have never and will never say no to a white sangria. Ever.
We headed to Verele just before sunset and treated ourselves to mojitos (the restaurant hadn’t fully opened yet when we visited) and then moseyed on over to Il Mare for dinner. Every dish I’ve tried at Il Mare has been top notch and authentically Italian (the restaurant manager is from Turin, a city in northern Italy), and dessert is a necessity when dining there. I have 3 words for you: chocolate. lava. cake!
Our villa manager, Kanishka, came by during dinner to check how we were doing and to see if we needed anything. He also let us know that housekeeping had gone round to the villa for turndown service, and that he had left a small gift for us in the room – a beautiful handmade wooden ship.
The Service at Anantara Tangalle
Where do I even begin? The service at Anantara goes beyond excellent. Service with a smile? No, more like service with soul. Every single staff member we crossed paths with said hello and flashed their pearly whites, and everyone we spoke with was genuinely friendly, kind and helpful: it’s the kind of warmth that you can’t fake.
Our villa manager was the most accommodating and thoughtful person – no task was too small and no task was too big. I’m fairly sure that he would have donated part of his liver if one of us needed a transplant (well not really, but you get the idea).
Things to Do in Tangalle
If you want to step outside of the resort and explore the area, there are plenty of options. You can go on a safari to Yala National Park or Udawalawe National Park, head to Galle Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), visit the temple in Gandara, tour a tea plantation and more. For more ideas head to my guide to Sri Lanka’s south coast.
For more ideas of things to do while you’re in Sri Lanka, read my 2-week itinerary around the island
Getting to Anantara Tangalle
The resort is located in the southern part of Sri Lanka and is a 3 and a half hour drive from Bandaranaike International Airport. There are also domestic flights from Colombo to Dickwella town but make sure you check the schedule as these currently only operate once a day.
All-in-all, Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle is one of the most extraordinary places I have ever stayed. When it was time to check-out and leave the hotel, the staff performed a traditional Sri Lankan farewell ceremony and said another round of Ayubowan greetings, and we left desperately wishing that we could have stayed another night. When you stay at Anantara you 1) never need to leave the property because they have almost everything you could ever hope for, 2) are treated with the highest level of hospitality, and 3) will almost certainly count down to your next visit.
Will I be back? Heck yes! I pretty much had to be dragged out kicking and screaming. I’m obviously not the only one who feels this way, because Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle was voted the #9 resort in Asia and #44 in the world in the 2016 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. To the Anantara staff: thank you for your wonderful hospitality, and please don’t be surprised if you catch me trying to sneak back into Villa 605.
Since Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle opened in early 2016, the chain has opened a brand new property further up the west coast of Sri Lanka in Kalutara. The new property, Anantara Kalutara, is another spectacular hotel that features Anantara’s signature service and design. You can read my full review of Anantara Kalutara here!
Are you thinking about visiting Sri Lanka or have you stayed at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle before? I’d love to hear from you below!
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I stayed at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle as a paying customer, the opinions on Yogawinetravel.com are, and always will be, my own!
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